Conservatives offer false hope for gay teens

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Following the suicide of teenager Jamie Hubley, many people have compiled tribute videos, primarily directed at the gay student. Some of these videos have had enormous success, such as Rick Mercer’s rant. The Conservative government, much to many Canadians’ surprise, also published a video using the “it gets better” slogan.

While I never commend the Conservatives for, well anything, this might be the first thing the Conservatives have ever done to even remotely attempt to connect with the gay community.

Yet, given the Conservatives’ record on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer (LGBTQ) issues, one must question the sincerity of the claims they are making.

Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the message in the video. However, my problem lies with the members of parliament (MPs) featured in the video and the policy of the party.

Perhaps the most questionable of the MPs in the video is David Sweet. While in the video he states “it gets better … don’t stay silent.” Sweet has stated that he believes homosexuality is a sin. He subscribes to this view to such an extent that he was the president of Promise Keepers, a group which sells a book entitled Leaving Homosexuality: A Practical Guide for Men and Women Looking for a Way Out.

Now maybe this is an overreaction, but having Sweet saying “it gets better” is arguably incredibly insensitive. He has made it clear that he does not approve of the LGBTQ community, so what exactly is he getting at? Has he had an epiphany of some sort?

Or does he genuinely believe it will get better after he tries to change peoples’ sexuality? Unless he is willing to renounce his former beliefs, Sweet has no place commenting on the topic of gay rights.

John Baird’s appearance in the video should also be noted. As a gay man, Baird should be more open about his sexual orientation. It’s nice that he is saying something to gay teens but think how much more powerful his message would be if he actually came out and showed struggling teens that a gay man can be open about his sexuality and still be a prominent member of parliament. This video, and the hypocrisy shown by the Conservatives, taints an otherwise positive message and makes them appear bigoted.

The message of “it gets better” should actually mean something. The fact that the majority of the party is against gay marriage should highlight the fact that the Conservatives really do not care about gay rights. If you’re concerned about gay teens committing suicide, shouldn’t you appear more supportive of their rights? Sure, you can tell kids that it will get better, but the party is doing very little to make it better.

These are the men and women who have the ability make things better but refuse to do anything. If the Conservative MPs actually felt strongly towards gay rights, or even cared about them, they should do something about it, rather than read a script for a video.

Take for example Bill C-389, the transgendered bill of rights which died in the last session and has been re-introduced by Liberal MP Hedy Fry in this session of parliament. While most of the party opposed it last time around, if they are truly serious about making things better, they would now support this bill, since it makes hate crimes against transgendered Canadians illegal — arguably an important issue in combatting bullying. While I appreciate the numerous attempts of individual, celebrities and some politicians to advance the “it gets better” movement, this video leaves me far less than satisfied.

It a blatant attempt to gain favour with Canadians by lending their “support” to a movement that is gaining momentum. At first glance, it appears the Conservatives were trying to do something for beneficial for gay rights. And, in a sense, perhaps the motivation is there.

Unsurprisingly, though, as with so many other issues which the Conservatives have paid lip service to, their actions paint a different picture than their words.


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